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In the discussion of last week’s Guardian prize (Philistine 26172), Brendan (not that one) asked whether anyone had a full list of the setters of the Guardian crosswords since the start of their archive in June 1999. This is something I have already tried to assemble (using both this site and the Guardian)- what follows is a summary of the stats. There are a few gaps in the list, and a few that appear as “None” in the archive – this is the full list of setters, with total, number in 2014 so far, first and last dates:
It looks like Imogen takes time with her crossword compiling. That’s probably why I didn’t remember her.
Before I saw your reply I’d already started on my spreadsheet. I’ve got a little program mining away at the Guardian archive as we speak. (It’s a slow job)
I’ve already noticed that quite a few puzzles appear to be missing and yes I’ve seen the compiler None too. I guess a lot of the “missing” puzzles could just be typos when the url file was created although you wouldn’t expect that to happen if the system was automated. (It is the Grauniad though!)
I’ll continue with this just out of interest. Hopefully the results will look similar to your summary.
The summary here is already out of date (so far just the line for Chifonie), and since completing the list I’ve only been updating my version once a month or so. I used Google searches for the pre-15^2 period because I found it quicker than the rather clunky Guardian search. The gaps are mostly in the early years i.e. pre-2002. The only recent one that may be contentious is the Araucaria tribute (29/11/13) that appeared with no setter’s name, but had a clue which fairly clearly attributed it to Enigmatist, Paul & Shed, so I credited them.
You’re doing better than me – I did the whole thing by hand!
The only four I failed to find any trace of at all were: 21742 (13 Nov 1999), 21676 (28 Aug 1999), 21646 (24 Jul 1999) and 21626 (1 Jul 1999). I gave 21676 to Araucaria since the date suggests it was a Bank Holiday prize – the other 3 are excluded from the list.
5 of the Nones were also in 1999 so I suspect the Guardian software had more bugs in it then.
Obviously I know the dates but just have no setter. It’s interesting that there are 2 kinds of failure on the Guardian archive. One which is a 404 error where the archive knows about the number but can’t seem to find the file it thinks it’s in. The other, which is rarer, where the archive doesn’t even know about the puzzle number!!! Of your 4 only 21626 is of the former variety. So the Guardian appear to have lost the other 3 as well.
I did it a couple of years ago, and it took about 3 months, an hour or two at a time, helped quite a lot by Excel’s autocomplete. I think some of these may have gone missing since I found them a couple of years ago, but in some cases I tried searching for the missing dates instead of the numbers, for example the first one appears in the archive as 21465 and the third as 21381 (so in a brute force search it might be worth trying earlier numbers). I may just have assumed that 21777 was an Araucaria Christmas special.
I have the following: 21645 – Rover, 21777 – Araucaria, 21831 – Fawley, 21951 – Bunthorne, 22032 – Quantum
22189 – Enigmatist, 22375 – Araucaria, 22557 – Gordius, 22574 – Pasquale, 22725 – Araucaria,
22920 – Bunthorne, 23735 – Paul, 23741 – Araucaria.
The last two probably came from the fifteensquared list, which I used for all of the more recent ones except for a few for which I couldn’t find blogs, since that way I found more per search.
Thanks for that BH. I never thought to look for the missing entries in the Archive By Date section. As you say there are entries for some of them with the compiler name but the link doesn’t actually work. Enough info for us though.
I’m almost there now. Just some tweeking, checking and development of the spreadsheet. Unfortunately I’m away for 2 days now so no time.
Thanks for your help. I’ll post here when it’s complete with a possible link to share it.
I have several files of Guardian crosswords but I can’t open them! To be able to do that I must buy an app but I am not too keen on the latter.
These files have been procured by automation to be imported into the app.
I find that 21626 is missing in this collection as well.
Well done! I’ve downloaded your list and compared it with mine, which has revealed 16 probable errors in my list – 6 of them in the same week, which I must have typed in the wrong order. I think your automated method has missed a couple that were joint efforts and credited them to Enigmatist. 25247 was credited to Enigmatist, Paul & Shed, 24782 to Enigmatist & Paul (I’ve just checked both). Apart from that your list agrees with mine apart from the ones I noted in earlier comments, so I think we’re getting close!
Mitz, I’d love to know if anyone has lists from earlier than 1999 too, but I suspect compiling that list would involve spending years in newspaper libraries. Maybe one day OCR scans will appear online…
I’ve just corrected the errors, and updated my list to include the last few, and the totals are now as follows: